Basic Bible Concepts: 2 – The Characteristics of God

Video transcript below

Welcome to Part 2 of the Bible Concepts. We’re going to talk about God’s characteristics as being the foundation for learning anything else really. If we understand the designer then we can understand the design. And that would be whether we’re talking about our own body or we’re talking about the universe or talking about the way people interact with each other. You can look at a Van Gogh painting and know a little bit about Van Gogh. So we’re going to look at some of the characteristics of God. First of all, we’re going to distinguish between his attributes versus his nature so actually let’s just break that down. So when we’re talking about attributes, we’re talking about him and his abilities. When we talk about nature, we’re talking about how his nature determines the way he acts. I can be five foot eight, have blond hair and blue eyes. Those are my attributes. So I’m also a lawyer. That’s an attribute, right? But my nature is, I mean I have a bad temper, so I’m guilty of that. And maybe I’m a happy person. My nature affects how I react to certain situations around me. So let’s jump right in with God’s attributes. 

  • First of all He’s a spirit. The Bible says in John 4:24 God is a spirit: those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. And we’re going to, actually I can’t wait to get into the part about how we worship him but we’re going to hold off right now, and just jump through these attributes of God so that we can do all this in 15 minutes. 
  • The Second attribute of God is he’s everlasting. The Bible says: before the mountains were brought forth or ever you had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, you are God and that’s in Psalms 90:2. I think we have a hard time wrapping our mind around these characteristics because they’re so foreign to us. We’ve never been everlasting so how can we possibly relate to that? So keep in mind some of these things are just too big for us to understand completely. But the Holy Spirit, as we begin to know him, helps us understand more and more of this. So don’t get discouraged, because maybe these things seem like big concepts.That’s why we’re talking about them. 
  • The next characteristic is omnipotent and omnipotent means that he is all-powerful. It’s interesting the Bible actually uses that word in Revelation 19:6. And it says: and I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the sound of many waters in the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, Allelujah: for the Lord God omnipotent reigns. So he is all-powerful. That’s not too hard to figure out. You look around and sit through a thunderstorm and a lightning show and go, WOW, nobody I know can make the Sun come up. If you just study the vastness of the universe and the complexity of the human body, then you think that it took a lot of power to create all of that and sustain it. So that evidence is all around us. 
  • Omniscient is the fourth core attribute. That means he knows everything. Luke 12:7 says he numbers the hairs of our head. For some of us that might be more challenging than others but not for God. And we also see in Psalms 147:4-5: it says he counts the number of the stars; he calls them all by name. Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite. So when we talk about his omniscience and clearly if he has the power to create everything he also has to know how to do it, right? And he does that on such a scale we can’t even comprehend. 
  • And then the fifth attribute is omnipresent. And what we mean by that, of course, is that God is everywhere. There are several verses I love about this characteristic of God. But we’re just going to read one. In Jeremiah 23:24-25. So this is God talking. Am I a God near at hand and not a God far off? Can anyone hide himself in secret places so I shall not see him? Do I not fill heaven and earth? And it’s kind of like  God having this conversation. Like you know, are you really asking these questions, because clearly I am all around you. So these are God’s attributes and they describe him and what he’s able to do.

 And so we’re going to move right on to God’s nature. So when we look at God’s nature we’re kind of breaking this down into three areas and kind of a fourth that applies to each of the characteristics. He’s righteous, just, and loving, right? Those are the three primary characteristics of God and each of those characteristics he’s infinitely so. So the infinite part is attributable to each of those characteristics because he doesn’t change his nature.  and what a blessing for us that God doesn’t change.You know he doesn’t say, okay this is the standard for righteousness, and oh by the way tomorrow is gonna be different, so we can rely on that. The same for justice. It’s not like, okay here’s the rules today and then tomorrow they’ll be different. No they’re the same and they’re all through the Bible. So let’s talk about the hard ones first. 

  • Righteousness, because I think it’s hard for us to study righteousness and justice. We want to hear about the love, right? And so when we talk about God’s righteousness, well it is a quality of God, it’s not an innate quality of man. And we’re going to talk about that next time in our next study actually. But if you look at the righteousness that God has, God is righteous. The Bible says, what shall we say then, is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not, and that’s in Romans 9. So we look at God. You know in Deuteronomy 32:4 the Bible says his work is perfect; for all his ways are justice, he’s a God of truth and without injustice; righteous and upright is he. As we look at the source of righteousness, and because his righteousness is infinite, then we don’t have to worry about that standard changing. Isn’t that just comforting? No, I think that’s extremely comforting. The Bible talks about his word revealing his righteousness. So if you look in, for example, Psalm 119 and the psalmist wrote: my tongue shall speak your word for all your commandments are righteousness. When we think about that standard in the Bible regarding righteousness, that should give us a curiosity to know, okay, this is God, who is everlasting, omniscient, and omnipotent. He’s everywhere and he’s righteous. How do I find out what his righteousness is? Well, it’s easy. It’s a characteristic of God and revealed in his word. 

And when we think about conforming to righteousness, what does that look like? Well, it’s not just an outward conformity.  I’m just going to do what God says because in the Old Testament the LORD commanded us to observe all these statutes to fear him for our good right? That’s what it says in Deuteronomy 6:24-25. That he might preserve us alive then it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to observe all these Commandments before the Lord, as he’s commanded us. But what did Jesus say? Jesus, because the scribes and the Pharisees, the hypocrites as he called them, he had this trilogy he was pointing out in the New Testament. These people who lived a ,quote, righteous life for men to see, they weren’t justified in God’s eyes. They were not made righteous in God’s eyes by their righteousness for everyone else to see because Jesus said that it had to come from the heart. In Matthew 5 he talks about you’ve heard it was said of old, don’t commit adultery: But this I say, whoever looks at a woman and lusts after has already committed adultery in his heart without even doing the act. So Jesus was pointing out that God looks at the heart. Our righteousness has to be at the heart level. And so when we think about God’s righteousness we are not thinking about rules we can follow outwardly and obey for men to see. We need to think about how that comes down into our heart 

  • And so let’s move on and look into justice. So when we talk about justice we first of all again, note that God’s justice is infinite. And in Deuteronomy 32:4 it says He is the rock, his work is perfect: all his ways are justice, a God of truth and without injustice, just and right  is he. Of course righteousness and justice, they kind of meld together, right? So if we say God is completely just that means that crime has to be punished, right? And the injustice means because we’ve like a scale of justice, right? If the crime weighs this much, the justice also has to weigh the same. And so that’s what we have in Leviticus.  For example the Bible talks about an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, an animal for an animal, a disfigurement for a disfigurement, a fracture for a fracture. I mean there’s very specific rules about justice as  in Leviticus 24 for example. So the physical law is, you know, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The law of God’s justice is the same. If the sin is a death the price must be death. And the magnitude of the offense determines the magnitude of the punishment. And we are going to talk about this a lot in the next study.
  • So let’s move on to God’s love. I know this is one everybody likes. I am so grateful for God’s love and the good news is that love is the dominant quality of God’s nature. First John 4:8  is a beautiful verse. He says who does not love does not know God; for God is love. And you know it’s just simple. God is love and it’s the dominant quality like I said. In First Corinthians 13 which most of y’all are familiar with there’s an extended definition of God’s love and you think about all these things. What does love mean? Well, love suffers long, it’s kind, doesn’t envy, does not parade itself, is not puffed up, does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil, doesn’t rejoice in iniquity, rejoices in truth, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things, and never fails. So we think about those qualities and I would encourage you to really sit down and think about those and read those because they’re so beautiful. And when we think about that, that’s what God’s offering as his love. And then to kind of wrap up his love you think about what was God’s personal demonstration of love to us. Well, Romans 5:8 says God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, in other words while we hated him, while we were committing crimes against his love, Christ died for us. I don’t know anybody who loves like that. And so when we say God’s love is a dominant characteristic, think about that. His love conquered the injustice that we’ve committed and gave us the opportunity to have his righteousness. And that’s why love conquers all and makes sense, right? So if you think about that love, it really determines all the requirements that he has for righteousness. And Jesus made that so easy for us to understand when in Matthew 22, when I think  a lawyer asked him “Now what must I do?” Jesus asked him what is the great commandment  of the law. And Jesus said love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind and love your neighbor as yourself. He summed up all the commandments in the Bible, all the requirements of righteousness and justice into two Commandments. And it starts in the heart, right? Love God with all your soul, heart, and mind and love your neighbor as yourself. Those are not things you fake, those are things you do from the heart. What a beautiful summary of God’s love and how it applies directly to us of how it fulfills the law.

So a couple things to set us up for the next study. We’re talking about God’s characteristics and his attributes. We need to understand something.  God because of his righteousness, he can only fellowship with righteous beings. He cannot be around people if they’re unrighteous because that would violate his righteousness, right? That would make him unrighteous because he would be around sin. So when we think about this, what the Bible says, and this is God’s word, right? It says in Romans 9:14 Is there unrighteousness with God? No, and Job says surely God will never do wickedly nor will the Almighty prefer injustice, right? And in Habakkuk 1:13 it says you are of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on wickedness. So God can’t be around wickedness. He can’t be around unrighteousness. Which as we’re going to learn leaves us in a bad spot. So he has to separate himself from unrighteousness because Isaiah 59:2 says your iniquities have separated you from your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. 

So we’ve set up, by understanding God’s attributes and his nature, how he reacts to things. We’ve kind of set ourselves up nicely for the next study which is God’s nature and how that creates the law of sin and death. And you know this is the hard stuff. But this is really important. Because if you don’t have the view of reality that God has laid out in his word then you’re going to be lost and that will have eternal implications. I’m really looking forward to the next study and I hope that you’ll join me.

We would love to hear your thoughts about this devotional. Did God speak to you or challenge your daily walk with him? Or is there a topic that you would like Kimberly to cover or expound on? Please share with us in the comments below.

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